Does this moralizing discussion of torture and safety make the cut?


Gregor Jordan’s sleeper film Unthinkable came out in 2010. I remember seeing some previews for this one when it was still in theaters (or being released on DVD), but I somehow lost track of the film, and have not seen it until now. The timeliness of the film in 2010 might have had a larger impact on the audience. However, as discussions of torture have resurged, perhaps this film will see a second life.

As a terrorist announces he has put three nuclear weapons in major cities within the United States, the FBI and CIA must scramble to get a confession out of the man. The woefully under-appreciated Carrie-Anne Moss plays Agent Helen Brody, who is forced to act as the voice of reason in a terrible situation. She must combat Samuel L. Jackson’s character “H” as he plans to ruthlessly draw the information from the terror suspect (played by Michael Sheen).

The film is set up simply: is it worth it to torture a man to save lives? What about torturing the man’s family? Where do we draw the line with our morals—or, where do we sacrifice them for the perceived “greater good?” I won’t go into details as the nature of this film will always be richer the less you know.

It is a shame this film did not get the attention it deserves. Oddly, the moments of the film that do not work are the parts where audiences are usually drawn. The more “action-y” moments that give the viewer a break from the tension are not working. The film might actually work better as a stage play. The fierce dialogue would be more affecting (and yes, I mean affect theory here) on the stage.

The biggest bummer is that if this had been written for the stage, and performed well, it could have been a contender for the Pulitzer. 8.25/10


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